Responses to cold shock in cyanobacteria

J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 1999 Nov;1(2):221-30.


Acclimation of cyanobacteria to low temperatures involves induction of the expression of several families of genes. Fatty acid desaturases are responsible for maintaining the appropriate fluidity of membranes under stress conditions. RNA-binding proteins, which presumably act analogously to members of the bacterial Csp family of RNA chaperones, are involved in the maintenance of the translation under cold stress. The RNA helicase, whose expression is induced specifically by cold, might be responsible for modifying inappropriate secondary structures of RNAs induced by cold. The cold-inducible family of CIp proteins appears to be involved in the proper folding and processing of proteins. Although genes for cold-inducible proteins in cyanobacteria are heterogeneous, some common features of their untranslated regulatory regions suggest the existence of a common factor(s) that might participate in regulation of the expression of these genes under cold-stress conditions. Studies of the patterns of expression of cold-inducible genes in cyanobacteria have revealed the presence of a cold-sensing mechanism that is associated with their membrane lipids. Available information about cold-shock responses in cyanobacteria and molecular mechanisms of cold acclimation are reviewed in this article.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Cyanobacteria / genetics*
  • Cyanobacteria / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid